Science for Development Showcase Event 2019
News28 March 2019
Minister Ciarán Cannon at the Science for Development Showcase
Science for Development Showcase Event 2019
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Development Education Unit was delighted to host the Science for Development Showcase Event in Iveagh House on 27 March 2019. Irish Aid, in collaboration with Self Help Africa, has been organising the Science for Development Award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition since 2006.
The award aims to encourage teachers and students to develop ideas, using appropriate scientific technology, that may prove useful at local community level in the world's poorer countries. The independent judging panel at the annual BTYSTE looks for evidence that students have made the link to the global level; how our challenges are global challenges which require global solutions.
The winners receive a perpetual trophy and a €5,000 bursary for the students and their teacher to travel on a fact-finding/field testing visit to a country in Africa, in association with Self Help Africa.
Even though there could only be one winning project, the showcase event acknowledges other students who were eligible for the award and affords them the opportunity to engage with like-minded young scientists as well as Self Help Africa and DFAT staff, and invited guests from NGOs and other organisations.
The 2019 winning project was one of those on display. Seán Byrne from Avondale Community College, County Wicklow, explored the use of a low cost eggshell filtration system to remove heavy metal pollutants from water. The system has the added benefit of removing microplastics from the water at the same time. Seán and his teacher Aoife Sullivan will travel to Zambia with Self Help Africa in early 2020 to field test the invention.
Last year's winner, Timothy McGrath, from Killorglin Community College also displayed his winning project which was an investigation into the use of genetic engineeing to purify cholera-infected water, by developing a micro-organism that feeds on the cholera bacteria. In February 2019 Timothy travelled to Uganda with Self Help Africa, where he presented his project to students and staff at Busitema University in Soroti. At the showcase event, Timothy presented a short video and delivered an inspiring speech about his Ugandan experience.
Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon T.D., complimented the young scientists on their achievements:
"Although all of your projects on display today are different, what they all have in common is the conviction that science should serve for the benefit of humankind and the planet. What I really admire about you young people is that you have come up with innovative solutions to the issues that concern you. That you have spent time developing this valuable work, and that you even conceived of these ideas is proof that you are already committed global citizens and that you care about the planet and its people."
Each year at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, we are seeing more and more entries that qualify for the Science for Development award. These are projects that might look at renewable energy, the purification and more efficient use of water, or adapting agricultural methods to respond to climate change. As President Michael D. Higgins noted in his speech at this year's BTYSTE, 88 of the projects on display in the RDS explored climate change and environmental issues. These were issues of concern to the young scientists in Iveagh House. Both Seán's and Timothy's projects explored the purification of water systems. This topic was also explored by Dylan Curran and Andi Lupu of Terenure College, Dublin. They have developed a Real Time Detection System and Treatment Method for Legionella in Water. Oisin Murphy, Ruairi Casey and Jay Looney from Moate Community School, Westmeath, displayed their project"Purification to Save the Nation", which explored installing solar-powered stills in Zambian homes to purify metal-contaminated water.
Denise Murphy and Rose Murphy travelled from Coláiste Choilm in Cork to display their project which created a filter for water troughs on farms to conserve water, gather compostable algae to use as fertilizer and to reduce manual labour while removing silt and algae.
Sustainable food production was of interest to other students. Caoimhín O'Leary from Ard Scoil Na Mara, Waterford, developed a really useful system of vertical farming. His project, "A Light Meal: An investigation of the impact of varying light levels on plant growth for sustainable vertical farming" won not only second prize in the BTYSTE Individual Intermediate Biological & Ecological catagory but also the Intellectual Ventures Insightful Invention Award, which includes a trip to the USA.
Rory Coleman and Rachel Fletcher from Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana, Donegal, developed a solar powered solution for the aquaponic growth of leafy crops in developing countries. John McElhone and Michael McLauglin from St Mary's Grammar School in Derry displayed a really interesting idea, to identify crop disease by using satellite imagery.
The loss of nutrients and moisture from the soil in traditional ploughing methods inspired Joshua Fitzgerald Tighe and Caitlin Murphy from Portmarnock Community School, Dublin, to create "Bicycle of Life - recycling old bicycles to create low till farming mechanisms".
Patrick Connaughton and Darragh Whyte from Ballymahon Vocational School in Longford, being farmers themselves, worked on a statistical investigation into the effects of the recent fodder crisis on farmers' mental wellbeing. This is an area often overlooked in the efforts to respond to the global implications of climate change.
Eneyal Sivakumar from Mount Mercy College, Cork, presented her work on the identification of plant extracts and oils as an insect repellent, so necessary in the fight against malaria and other deadly insect-borne diseases.
Another Cork student, Ava Kate Beausang travelled all the way from St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill, to show us "The Becquerel Roof: The Solar roof of the future" which is an excellent contribution in the fight against climate change.
Proving that Cork is the science capital of Ireland, Anna O'Connor from St Angela's College in Cork presented her project, "Building and Testing a Solar Powered Device to Aid Education in Refugee Camps". Anna's project won the Trinity College, Dublin Global challenges Award.
Dr. Tony Scott, founder of Ireland's Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition spent some time discussing their work with the students and also addressed them from the podium. Other inspirational speakers included Ray Jordan, Executive Director of Self Help Africa, Paul Wagstaff, Self Help Africa Senior Agricultural Advisor and Dorothy Jacob, development education co-ordinator at Self Help Africa.
We are already looking forward to the Science for Development Showcase 2020!